Our Christmas Tree























You probably wonder about the Christmas tree. It closely resembles some of the trees my father would bring in the house and decorate when I was a child. He had the worst decorating tastes of any person I have ever met. As daddy entered a field of scattered pines, the first tree he saw that resembled a pine fell victim to his axe. Even if a couple of limbs had to be wired on to make it acceptable that was no problem. The same two strings of lights were used for perhaps 20 years. There were colored light bulbs with colored metal reflectors held in place by screwing the bulbs in through them. There were two strands of garland, one silver and one red, which after a decade or so began to look like shiny twine, not garland. Some of the early years would find daddy with some sewing thread, a needle, and a bowl of pop corn, stringing it up to add more color to the tree. At its best it was always only slightly more attractive than the one in the picture. Mom was blind so daddy got away with stuff most husbands would have been maimed for! But, it was Christmas and we were happy.

At least once a year, daddy would mention that Christmas for him, when he was a boy, was an orange, and perhaps a few pieces of hard candy. It was a true story. My grandparents had 13 children and lived a very primitive life back in the hollers and way up the creeks in Yancey County N.C. We had it good compared to those days and my parents never took it lightly.

My favorite Christmas memory was getting a bicycle one year. It was a hand-me-down from a 1st cousin that daddy had painted red with a brush and it looked like it. But, I was thrilled to have my own bike and it was a wonderful gift. My grandson’s haul, and the huge boxes that were mailed off to granddaughters, are a stark contrast to those days of finding so much comfort in just getting by.


This is from part of a post I wrote in Dec of 2007. It brings back a flood of memories, good memories, ones I’ll cherish forever.

Sadly, working a full-time job has really limited my time to write, something I love doing. It seems that there is never enough time for it. Perhaps I need to make better use of the time I have. We’ll see about that…

Meanwhile I hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and that you keep first things first. May each of us treasure Christ in our hearts above all else. Of all our affections He should be supreme.

Merry Christmas,

Royce Ogle




Now, But Not Yet

My study of Scripture has led me to these conclusions.

  • I “have” eternal life, but wait for it.
  • I  have been “made” righteous, but am unrighteous.
  • I have been “justified”, but wait to be justified.
  • I have become a “child” of God, but wait to fully experience that relationship.
  • I have been “sanctified”, but am being sanctified.
  • I have a “place” prepared for me to live in, but wait to live there.

All of this is to say I am “saved” , I am being saved, and I wait to be fully saved.

  • I  have eternal life as a present possession but being earth-bound and flesh- bound I will not fully live the eternal life I have until Jesus comes to finally complete his reconciliation of all things to himself (God).
  • I now am counted by God as righteous based wholly upon the worth and work of Jesus but I would be a liar, and be calling God a liar, if I claim I don’t still sin. I do, you do.
  • I have been justified, or ‘set right” with God though Chris,t but until I receive the immortality promised I will not have complete justification.
  • I am now God’s child but I have yet to literally sit at his table, to look Jesus in the face, and to experience all that is mine as an heir to all God owns. And, to share it all with my siblings.
  • I am now sanctified (set apart for God) but my sanctification will only be complete when the very presence of sin will be forgotten history. I’m not there yet but it’s certain I will get there.
  • There is a place reserved for me in eternity outside of time but I must wait to see it and experience it until the new heaven and new earth are revealed along with the sons and daughters that will inhabit them.

I live solidly and without doubt in the now of today, sure of the promised tomorrow. I do so with NO merit of my own. My promise realized is my promise sealed by God himself based not on me or what I have done, or will do, but wholly upon the sinless life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ the righteous. When at last I stand before the Lord of all that is I can claim nothing but the blood of the Lamb poured out for ungodly sinners like me.

While I wait for my blessed hope I am content for Jesus to be my peace, my hope, my joy, my comfort, my righteousness, my advocate, and my promise of seeing the glory of God for myself. Christ is the vine, I am a branch. There is no me without Him. I’m working at abiding in Him.

Grace to you,

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA

The comprehensive scope of the gospel of Christ

The gospel, or “good news”, about Christ is very, very good news because the truth about human beings without Him is so horribly bad.

Every person who is born is born helpless. On this point surely there can be no disagreement. Our precious babies must be cared for in every way. They must be fed, diapers changed, bathed, carried, calmed when they are uncomfortable because they can’t speak, and the list goes on. Babies, even the strongest and brightest are equally helpless. As they grow, gain strength and agility, and learn, slowly they become less dependent on Mom and Dad. Soon they begin to talk, to walk, and do a variety of the cutest things. Then, all too soon for most parents and grandparents, they grow up and are out of the house and on their own. (Some not soon enough)

When children mature into teens and young adults they are still just as profoundly helpless but in a totally different way. Some of them will still lean on dear old Mom and Dad and Gran and Pap longer than anyone wishes, but apart from that each person old enough to do what they know to be wrong. and do it any way. share some problems they are helpless to cure of their own resources. This is true in every place on the earth in every culture and in every tribe and tongue.

Humans are ungodly and can’t do anything to become godly.

Humans are unrighteousness and can’t do anything to become righteous.

Humans are alienated from God and can’t do anything to be reconciled to Him.

Humans are everyone going to die and can do nothing to avoid dying.

Humans will face the wrath of God and can do nothing to avoid that wrath.

Humans have the capacity to commit all kinds of offences against God and His law and can do nothing about it.

The Bible is unambiguous and crystal clear about the condition of a person without God. The bad news about our universal condition is indeed very bad! The precise reason the gospel of Christ is such joyous good news is this, every human problem announced in the Bible about sinful people is gloriously solved in Christ alone. Owing only to His work for sinners the ungodly can be made godly, the unrighteous can be made righteous, aliens can be reconciled to God, physical death will only be the grand entrance into life everlasting, those facing the just wrath of God will not be appointed to wrath, and the penalty, power, and even the presence of sin will be taken away, and knowing God forever will be their joy! This is the best good news possible! No other good news compares.

These passages of Scripture give a broad view of the good news for sinners. What I say, or any person for that matter, is only relevant to the degree what he or she says can be confirmed by the Word of God. So, what does the Bible say about the things I have mentioned?

Romans 1:14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.

The great Apostle Paul knew a personal obligation to share the good news about Jesus with everyone possible. To “Greeks” and “barbarians”, to “wise” and to “foolish” and even to those who were already God’s people, “you also who are in Rome”. Some translations use the word “debtor” for the phrase “under obligation”. Paul felt he owed everyone the good news and he intended to pay that debt.

So why was Paul so “eager” to preach the good news? “..it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” it. Jews and Greeks alike (the whole of humanity) need to be saved from themselves and their helpless and hopeless condition, and here it is! “The righteousness of God is revealed” in the gospel! Here is good news for unrighteous people, God reveals His righteousness to those who believe the good news about Jesus and his work. 

Later in his letter to the Romans Paul gives more good news!

Romans 5:For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

This is a remarkable passage! If every seminarian and every Bible school student and every preacher/teacher trainee understood this wonderful passage our churches would be far different. Vibrant missions works will never happen unless those who go understand the gospel of Christ for sinners.

God meets us where we are, in “weakness”. He comes to us in our present condition, “ungodly”. He works for us while we are still “sinners”. It is very good news that Christ died for the “ungodly” because that is all of us! He didn’t ask us to reform ourselves. He did not ask that we prove ourselves by doing good, going to church, etc. No! Christ died for ungodly sinners. That’s you! That’s me!

You and I might die for a good friend, for a good person, but not for an enemy, not for a bad person. But God’s love is not like our love. It is bigger and better! God put his love on display for the whole creation by dying for sinners! But what does his death mean to me, to you?

“We are justified by his blood”. This means that when Christ bled and died on the cross you and I were “set right” with God. We, though sinful to the core, are declared not guilty based wholly upon the sacrificial death of Jesus. The old song asks “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus” and so it is. We are not approved by God because of our performance but by Christ’s performance. Never forget, this saving work of Christ was done for you but outside of you. You were totally helpless to fix your broken condition.

But there’s much more! “much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” What wonderful news! We sinners were facing the wrath of God! Through Christ we will be saved from the wrath of God. The time will come when the fury of God’s just wrath against sin, against those who ignore his love and continue in their evil ways, will be poured out without measure. I don’t pretend to know all that entails but it is very, very bad.

We are saved by his life. Christ died for us reconciling us to God and because He was raised from the dead he promises we too shall live. Because he lives I live. Because he can not die I can not die. I am saved by his life!

But there’s even more! Better than being justified, better than being saved from God’s wrath, better than being reconciled to God, and even better than knowing we will be saved by his life is that we can rejoice in God forever! 

Yes, God saves us from our sins. Yes, God saves us from wrath to come. Yes, God makes us righteous. Yes, God gives us eternal life! But far better than these things is that God intends that we have joy. Joy whose source is Jesus, joy unending, joy unfettered by worldly affairs. joy forever, joy to the full!

Life present you with some questions you can’t answer? Jesus is the answer!

There is no life gone to far. There is no sinner to sinful. There is no rebellion to rebellious. There is no one to far away from God.

Christ died for you. He died for your sins. Why not receive the benefits of Christ’s saving work for you? Repent of living to please yourself. How is it working out for you? Turn your whole being over to Him. Believe that God came in flesh, lived a perfect life and offered that perfect life as a sacrifice for you, and took upon him all of your dirty sins, then died the death you deserved. On the 3rd day Jesus arose from the grave alive to die no more and by his life you too can live, free from the guilt and penalty of sin and made righteous as He is righteous. All of your greatest needs are met only in Christ and the cross of his death and his triumphant resurrection.

This is GOOD NEWS!

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA


Have you received the word?

Isn’t is odd how you can read passages in the Bible, for years, and suddenly see something you had before overlooked? Recently as I was reading through Acts I noticed some reoccurring phrases that for some reason my mind had up to then simply dismissed. Those phrases are, “received his word”, and “received the word of God”. This experience is sort of like detectives I see on TV who work “cold cases”. An ambitious detective will pull the files of an unsolved crime and begin sorting through and analyzing all of the evidence in that file. Many, many times I have either seen on TV or read in the news about some case forgotten long ago that was solved because someone cared enough to give the evidence another critical look and the detective saw something others had overlooked time and time again. I don’t ever remember anyone discussing the appearance of these phrases, “received his word” and “received the word of God”, as they appear in Acts 2, 8, and 11.

Each time they appear they have a specific meaning, and the same meaning, that I think gives the texts some needed context that is not there if they are ignored. The first appears in Acts 2. Every church of Christ member knows part of chapter 2 very well and most Christians know parts of it, but maybe not this part of it.

The setting is a festival in the city of Jerusalem in the first century. It is Pentecost and seven weeks since Jesus rose from the dead. Pentecost was a Jewish holiday/festival celebrating the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. The scene was alive with celebration as people from all across the known world converged on Jerusalem to observe Pentecost, to renew old acquaintances, and likely even to see family. This festival had been celebrated for many years and people knew what to expect, it was a good time! But this year, this Pentecost, things would be very different. They were there to celebrate Law but God was about to lay some Grace on them.

When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples the scene was so boisterous and noisy and the followers of Jesus so out of the ordinary that many people took notice and were sure those men had just had too much wine and were drunk. Not the case! Peter stood up and gave an explanation. “These men aren’t drunk as you think, it’s early in the morning”. He announced that a prophecy was being fulfilled before there very eyes. It as from Joel concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit and the results of that coming. He concluded the quote with these words, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21) Then Peter starts preaching about Jesus quoting David and making the case that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was indeed the Christ of God they were looking for. He put the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus squarely on them! 

Upon hearing this shocking news, these Jews asked, “What shall we do?”  Then comes the familiar text of Acts 2:28, “ And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Many people evidently stopped reading there. A doctrine of salvation has been built largely upon this one verse and in the minds of many it trumps all others. As one man recently put it, “Any verse of Scripture that seems to contradict Acts 2:38 is “iffy” “. Well, I suggest that since Peter didn’t stop there we shouldn’t either. 

Peter first said “repent”. This is important. “Repent” of what and how? Well, repent of your unbelief! You have rejected Jesus the Christ, the Messiah of God and had him killed, Peter accused them twice of the murder of Jesus. After they were convicted of their sins and convinced of the truth about Jesus (“cut to the heart”) they first needed to repent of their unbelief and believe what Peter had preached. And they did. They “received the Word” Peter preached. Salvation is by grace through faith and these men obviously repented and believed and then were baptized. It is always that order, repentance and faith in Jesus first, and then baptism. The Bible is very clear about this. Notice in Acts 2:41a,So those who received his word were baptized”.  Those who received his word were those who had believed Peter’s preaching, the prophecy of Joel and of David. They had repented of unbelief and had put their faith in the Christ. That is what it means to “receive the Word”.

One other important thing before I leave chapter 2. Peter told those who listened that the promises he gave were to “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39b) . There are two things to take note of  in this 2nd chapter of Acts. First, Peter preached to everyone who had ears. And so it is with us. We are to herald the good news about Jesus to anyone and everyone possible. We are to peach to the whole word, every creature! There is no doubt about that. But, what is just as true is that not everyone will repent. Not everyone will “receive the Word”. Not everyone will believe on Christ. Not everyone will be baptized. The ones who will “receive the Word” are those whom the Lord our God calls to himself. Not one more and not one less. This truth is repeated over and over in the Scriptures.

” So those who received his word were baptized..” Acts 2:41a

Now lets look at Acts chapter 8. Phillip travels to Samaria and preaches Christ to the people. And, the Bible says “the crowds with one accord paid attention to what Peter was preaching. There were unclean spirits coming out of people, others were being healed and many believed on the  Lord and were baptized. One man was mentioned by name for he was a hard case I suppose, but God saved him too. A man named Simon had the attention of the people for a long time. He practiced magic and people feared him. But he too believed after hearing Phillip preach the kingdom of God and about the Christ. God meets people where they are and saves who he will, the down and out, the rich and the poor at his discretion.

The story continues that when the church leaders at Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria “had received the word of God” they sent Peter and John to minister to them. It’s the same story as Acts 2. Someone preaches Christ, some repent and believe “receiving the Word”, and are baptized. The narrative is a bit different here in chapter 8 in that the Samaritans did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came and laid hands on them. So we might not want to be so rigid about using Acts 2:38 as a blanket, once size fits all promise, it clearly isn’t. In Acts 2 Peter preaches, they repent and believe (received the Word) and were baptized and I’m sure they received the Holy Spirit as Peter said. In Acts 8 Phillip preaches, the people believe (receive the Word) and are baptized and don’t receive the Holy Spirit. Then as we will see later in Acts when Peter preached to Cornelius and his folks they too believed and while Peter was preaching Christ they received the Holy Spirit. An unusual set of facts. Why did God do it this way? I don’t have a clue! I only know he did it. What is common in all three cases is that the people heard Christ preached, they “received the word” and were then baptized.

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God…” Acts 8:14a

Now to chapter 11. Peter has had a vision, three times, that convinced him that God loved Gentiles as much as Jews and that he should go to them with the gospel. You can read the story in Acts 10. It was after his sermon about Jesus, and after they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit that Peter asked (my paraphrase..) “Can anybody think of a reason why we shouldn’t baptize these people? They received the Holy Spirit just like we did when we believed!” So Peter baptized them. It is worth mentioning that Peter ended his sermon with this sentence. “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43) This was true in Acts 2, in Acts 8, in Acts 10, and in Monroe, Louisiana today. I can think of no reason to try to qualify these words of the Apostle Peter to our ancient ancestors, the first Gentiles to be saved by grace.

The story continues,this was a huge deal! A few days ago a Jew wouldn’t even speak to a Gentile and now they are calling them brothers and baptizing those who believed the gospel. Chapter 11 begins with the apostles and brothers hearing that the Gentiles also “had received the word of God”. There is that phrase once more. The text says “…the Gentiles also had received the word of God”. Also? Yes, the saved Jews, Peter and the other brothers and Apostles were saved the same way as the Gentiles, they “received the Word of God”. They accepted it by believing it!.

In Acts 11:4-17 Peter carefully detailed the story of his going to the Gentiles and what happened when he preached the gospel to them. When Peter finished you could have heard a pin drop. They were completely silent for a time. And then they gave glory to God! That section ends with these words,  “And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (vs 18b) Remember earlier how God calls some to himself? He also gives repentance to those he calls. The Bible is clear about this. Some he hardens and some he softens. He is God and can do what he will. It is repentance that leads to life. Unless a person repents of his or her unbelief, receiving the Word by faith, that person will remain alienated from God.

Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.” Acts 11:1

We Christians are to publish the Word of God across the world to every person possible. The gracious offer of the gospel from God is addressed to “whosoever will..” Some of those to whom we preach Christ will “receive the Word”, only some of them, not all, will repent of their unbelief. There is someone there, someone yonder, who waits to hear and receive the Word of God. They will not hear until we tell it.

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA